More people on the planet own a mobile phone (5.1 billion) than own a toothbrush (4.2 billion).
I'm not sure how Mobile Marketing Asia knows how many people own a toothbrush, but in addition to providing that truly gross factoid, they are pointing out the undeniable ubiquity of mobile phones.
Also consider that more than half of mobile phones today are smartphonesa percentage that is growing by leaps and bounds.
You don't need a fancy research report to tell you that consumers and their smartphones are inseparable. Just look at people standing in a line or even walking down the street. Chances are many of them are on their smartphoneswalking and talking and texting. And studies show that as much as 25 percent of smartphone searches are conducted at home.
Consider these Google stats:
c 70 percent of all mobile searches result in action within one hour;
c 95 percent of smartphone users look up local information, and of those, 61 percent called and 59 percent visited the business;
c 67 percent of consumers say they're more likely to buy a product or service from a mobile-friendly site;
c 50 percent of consumers said that even if they like a business, they will use them less if the website isn't mobile friendly; and
c 48 percent said that if a site didn't work well on their smartphones, it made them feel like the company didn't care about their business.
It is important for tire dealers to understand the difference between a mobile-optimized website and a website that will pull up on a mobile phone. A mobile-optimized site gives the consumer everything he or she needs immediately and easily viewable on the phone screen. For a tire dealer, this means having click icons for the phone, email and directions to the dealership's nearest store, as well as current promotional offersand a listing of all the brands it carries.
This is totally different from your standard website where consumers have to search around and resize the information to find what they are most interested inbuying some tires.
So, yes, we are talking about two different sitesone for mobile searches and the other your traditional website for the larger desktop and laptop screens. But what if the consumer is searching on his or her laptop and finds your mobile site first? Google has introduced the Googlebot-Mobile crawler to recognize searches from mobile phones and mobile-optimized sites.
Google and other search engines are not there yet, but they are working feverishly to connect mobile users consistently with mobile sites. After all, Google's No. 1 goal is to focus on the user and all else will follow.
In the meantime, here are steps you should take once you build your mobile site to augmentnot take the place ofyour traditional site:
c Create a mobile sitemap and submit it to Google to inform them of the site's existence. If not, they will not crawl it.
c Some mobile sites refuse access to anything but mobile phones; don't do this. Allow any user to access your site. If a mobile user accesses your standard site first, you can re-direct him or her to the mobile version. If the mobile user wants more information, say about the history of your company, provide prominent links to sections on your standard site for deeper information.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking about online marketing at the Independent Tire Dealers Group L.L.C. (ITDG) dealer conference in Palm Springs, Calif. Through a show of hands, I learned that some ITDG dealers have instituted mobile-optimized sites (many of them just recently) and others have not.
Everyone in the audience, however, clearly understood the importance of doing thissooner rather than later.
This is one area where you do not want to be a late adopter.
John Taylor is president of JTMarCom, a Nashville, Tenn.-based digital marketing agency. He can be reached at 615-477-3099 or via email at [email protected] The company's website is at www.jtmar.com.